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October 26, 2007

Ben Mezrich "Rigged"

Ben Mezrich has a new book out, "Rigged". It's a purportedly true tale of how a Brooklyn kid went out to change the world of oil trading forever. Hmm, well, yes, I think Mezrich is rather over egging the pudding with that. Here's a review:

Russo, the protagonist of prolific writer Ben Mezrich's latest page-turner, "Rigged," feared that the months of hard work, globetrotting, networking and Machiavellian machinations he and his friend Khaled Abdul-Aziz, a member of the Dubai ruling family, had invested in the ambitious project had turned into a futile exercise.

The DME, a joint venture of Dubai Holding, the New York Mercantile Exchange and the Oman Investment Fund, is now located in the Dubai International Financial Centre.
"Rigged" is a mostly true story of behind-the-scenes events that led to the creation of the exchange.
Fiction techniques are employed to create an atmosphere of suspense and enhance the readability of the true story.

Well, OK, a tale about the founding of an oil exchange in the Middle East could indeed be interesting....but it's not something that would change the world. An oil exchange is just a bunch of blokes in suits shouting into telephones. It's nothing to do with hte actual physical trading of oil....no one is now loading or unloading oil in Dubai as a result of it. All it is is that people in that time zone can now shout into telephones, rather than doing so in London, New York, or anywhere else on the planet.

So I'm afraid that Ben Mezrich has slightly over-hyped what his hero has don in this book. A minor and marginal change to the world, not anything that requires quite so much hoopla. Might still be a good book for all that but the precedent isn't encouraging.

October 26, 2007 in Books | Permalink


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Tim, doesn't sound like you have any idea what you are talking about here. The exchange in Dubai has physical deliverability of crude oil - which means barrels ARE being delivered due to this exchange. And if you consider the implications of installing a capitalist mechanism to price oil in the heart of the middle east, it is not too far of a stretch to say that this could change the world.

You should get a little better informed before you comment.

Tim adds: I said that no one is loading and unloading oil in Dubai as a result of this exchange. Which is true, they're not. Physical deliverability is, as you know, something different.

Posted by: michael | Nov 7, 2007 2:43:11 PM

I'm watching Ben Mezrich right now on C-Span Book TV, and he's a pretty loquacious guy. I could see how his books could be entertaining. I searched his background and he's a steady writer. Looks like I gotta dig in a bit...

Posted by: Dave | Nov 19, 2007 4:46:01 AM

This book was a stinker; not a single three dimensional character to be found and a plot so thin that an ant couldn't walk across it.

Yes, Dubai is going to be a big player on the global scene, but I don't see an ounce of anything resembling reality in either the characters he has purportedly described (created) or find anything remotely convincing around the suspense that Mr. Mezrich has manufactured.

Posted by: mike | Dec 12, 2007 9:32:39 PM

I managed to get through it due to Mezrich's easy style but essentially very little happens. There are various devices employed to try to introduce some interest, some of these seem pretty desperate. Characters are not well developed and lazy stereotyping is rife. I am sure this 'true' story is 80%+ fictional. I don't care about that in itself though...

I am generally a fan of Mezrich but if anyone wants to try his work, I suggest you start with Bringing Down the House. Breaking Vegas and Ugly Americans are also page turners and far superior to this disappointing latest effort.

Posted by: gavin | Feb 14, 2008 4:19:04 PM